I said that I would look out for the transcript of the judgment that Mr Booker was reporting about
The bare facts that we knew were – His Honour Judge Jones, two boys, a bruise, and an older child, and Placement Orders being made.
This case here, ticks all of those boxes
Re A (a child) 2014
I don’t want to get stuck into the facts too much, because there’s no way to be SURE that it is the same case that Mr Booker was writing about. You may recall that the central complaint in Mr Booker’s piece was that the parents weren’t able to fight the case and were not allowed into Court.
From Re A, the Court say this:-
- The parties to the applications and their legal representations are as follows:
- the Local Authority, X County Council brings both applications in respect of the children and are represented today by Miss Beattie;
- the children’s mother L is represented today by Miss Erwood. The mother has been present during the course of today, but she like the father has decided not to remain within this courtroom this afternoon for the purposes of this judgment. That decision is perfectly understandable so far as the Court is concerned;
- The children’s father is CC. He shares parental responsibility for the children. He is represented by Mr Blythin;
- The children are represented by their Guardian Miss Siân Wilson who has been present today and is represented by their solicitor Miss Debbie Owens.
A parent deciding that they don’t want to come in and hear the judgment is not that uncommon, and is an utterly different thing to being told they aren’t allowed to come in.
It can’t be an easy thing to listen to, particularly where (as these parents did) they have decided not to fight the case and they know that the outcome is going to be something that will break their heart.
One of Mr Booker’s complaints is that the parents were told that there was no prospect of appeal. That would be right in this case, because the parents decided not to oppose the case. It would be an extremely unlikely scenario that a person can decide not to fight a case and then the same day have legal grounds to appeal the decision.
It is always difficult with a Mr Booker story to be sure when you actually have the judgment that matches up with his case, and in his defence, it could be that this is another case entirely.
There’s nothing improper about the judgment in Re A – it considers everything that needs to be looked at, it is not a rubber stamp, it gives proper regard to the evidence and the legal tests and it is as kind as a Judge can be in those difficult circumstances.
IF this is the case that Mr Booker complains of, there is absolutely nothing in it that warrants the level of complaint he was making.
They had legal representation, they were entitled to go into the Court, they were entitled to instruct their lawyers to fight the case. By the sounds of it, they were given advice that the chances of doing so successfully were very poor and they decided not to put themselves through that ordeal. Perhaps they regretted it almost immediately. Perhaps they feel in hindsight that they didn’t feel that they had a choice. Perhaps they wish that they had fought the case and that they will never know now what might have happened. But they had the choice to make, and they made that choice with legal advice.
Perhaps (and I really don’t want to besmirch these particular lawyers, it is more of a general complaint) lawyers don’t always make it completely clear enough to parents that the lawyer is there to advise them, but that the parent can refuse to take that advice. They can tell the lawyer to fight on, and the lawyer’s job then is to fearlessly represent that client without fear or favour. You can tell your lawyer, thanks, but not thanks.
Unlike a boxing cornerman, your lawyer can’t throw in the towel on your behalf, even if they think you will take a horrible beating. Only you can throw the towel in.
[One can accept of course that someone can legitimately hold a view that adoption is wrong in all cases and that any case involving adoption is thus wrong and unfair. If that’s your view, then like Ian of Forced Adoption, you’re entitled to make complaint about all and any cases. But if you are instead arguing that in this particular case, the parents were robbed of a fair hearing, and denied due process, there’s nothing to support that assertion]
If it isn’t the same case (and he is able quite easily to establish the date of the final hearing and who was representing the parents to show otherwise) then we will have to wait and see for when the real case he was writing about shows up.
There ARE things that go wrong in family law, there are cases where parents are done great injustice (like the HH Judge Dodds case that Mr Booker also writes about) and it is a good thing that there are people to make those injustices known. It is only by dragging them into the light that things will get better. But we do also have to be responsible in reporting and be sure that if we are shouting that there’s a wolf that what you are seeing is really a wolf.